By Rebecca Henely
City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) and members of the civic organizations in the Elmhurst and Jackson Heights areas announced Friday that they had collected 100 bags of clothing and funding and encouraged residents to give more for those displaced by the five-alarm fire in a large Judge Street apartment house during the snowstorm.
“Today we are here to say ‘thank you’ to all the New Yorkers who have responded,” Ferreras said.
On Dec. 27, the second day of the snowstorm that crippled Queens for days, an accidental fire caused by a space heater began on the top floor of a 66-unit apartment building at 41-72 Judge St. Because of the snow, the Fire Department had trouble getting to the area and setting the equipment up, and the fire went to five alarms. Four firefighters and four residents were injured in the blaze. All the tenants were evacuated and sheltered temporarily at PS 89 at 55-24 Van Horn St.
Edward Kalikow, manager of the building, said within 48 hours, tenants in 30 units had been able to move back into their homes, but many remain displaced.
In response to the fire, many organizations donated items for the residents. The Jackson Heights-Elmhurst Kehillah donated medical masks for the residents, the Kiwanis Club of Jackson Heights gave a check donation for cleaning supplies and the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights donated all clothing from their thrift shop.
Edward McGowan, chairman of the Kehillah, said the group was also creating an emergency community fund for disasters like this in the future.
Ferreras said the 100 bags of clothing they received have been enough to fill the basement of her office at 32-33A Junction Blvd. in East Elmhurst, where a makeshift clothing store has been set up for the displaced.
Ferreras also encouraged others to donate.
“Whatever you have in your house, that’s what they need because that’s what they lost,” she said.
Jordan Platt of Kaled Management, the company that manages the building, said in the next two weeks they are expecting to open up 10 or 11 apartments. To fix the building, they will need to install a new roof, fix the elevator, and get the gas turned back on into parts of the building. He estimated this work should take six months.
“We’d like to thank the councilwoman for all her support in expediting our applications with the Buildings Department,” Kalikow said.
Edward McQuillian, spokesman for the American Red Cross in Greater New York, said temporary housing has been set up for those who are still displaced, and those who were away for the holidays and had no home to go back to should call 1-877-RED-CROSS.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.